New Paper on Defending Morton v. Mancari

Andrew Huff and Tim Coulter have released “Defending Morton v. Mancari and the Constitutionality of Legislation Supporting Indians and Tribes”.

Quote from the article

Supporting and defending the Mancari decision and the rule that it stands for – that laws benefiting tribes are not unconstitutional racial classifications – is a very high priority, perhaps the most urgent and important Indian law issue of our time. This paper reviews the decision in Mancari and the law leading up to and following it. We then turn to a discussion of the present challenges to the Mancari rule. In Part V, we suggest possible ways to support the decision and its rationale, and we discuss some additional legal arguments and approaches for defending the constitutionality of legislation benefiting tribes.

PDF of paper below and paper is available for download here 

Mancari 11-19


Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Report Released

From the Urban Indian Health Institute:

We released a report today on the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in urban areas. This first-of-its-kind report aims to provide a comprehensive snapshot of the MMIWG crisis in urban American Indian and Alaska Native communities and the institutional practices that allow them to disappear not once, but three times—in life, in the media, and in the data.

Read the report, listen to the stories, and help us end the violence. #MMIWG#DecolonizeData #NotInvisible #NoMoreStolenSisters #urbanMMIWG

Read the full report here

*This report contains strong language about violence against Native women and girls.

NCJFCJ Statement Supporting ICWA

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, one of the oldest and largest judicial membership organizations in the country serving an estimated 30,000 professionals in the juvenile and family justice system has released a statement supporting ICWA.

The full statement is available here 

The Honorable John J. Romero, Jr.  President, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges  (bold added by me):

It’s imperative to preserve the rights, culture, connections, and traditions of Indian children and their families. The disproportionate numbers of American Indian and Alaska Native children in our child welfare system persist almost 40 years after ICWA became law. Consequently, the new ICWA rules and regulations enacted in 2016 promote the uniform application of ICWA and to advance and protect Indian children’s best interests.

Our American Indian and Alaska Native children are essential to the security and stability of each tribe. In each ICWA proceeding, the judicial officer and other court professionals should be mindful that children are the heart of the law. Committed uniform application of ICWA and the Regulations will advance and protect the best interests of each child and enhance tribal security and stability.

CSKT 2018 Indian Child Welfare Legal Summit, September 12-13

Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes’2018 Indian Child Welfare Legal Summit

The Montana Court Improvement Program, in conjuction with CSKT, would like to invite you to this interactive training designed to improve legal knowledge, skills, and practices in relation to Indian Child Welfare. 

After opening with a case law update describing recent Montana opinions, federal court litigation, and note-worthy opinions from sister states, this CLE will provide a quick interactive refresher on the basics of tribal jurisdiction in child custody cases and the requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act.

With this foundation in place, participants will explore topics like best practices in child welfare casesdomestic child sex traffickingtribal code enhancement, and ethics as it relates to Indian child welfare cases.  Participants will have the opportunity to break out into small affinity groups to discuss improving systems and practices across the state in order to better serve AI/AN children and families.

This two-day training is designed for tribal attorneys, tribal judges, parents’ attorneys, GALs, adoption attorneys, and state prosecutors. (Although caseworkers, CASAs, and other child welfare practitioners are welcome to join us, the focus of this training is to improve legal knowledge, skills, and practices.)  Faculty includes local and national experts, practitioners, and scholars from across the country.  An application for CLE credits will be filed.

For agenda, updates and more visit:

VAWA Reauthorization 2018

The Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Bill has been introduced today in the House by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee.

Full text of bill available Final–VAWA 2018 copy

Press Release from Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee here

In addition, the National Indigenous Woman’s Resource Center (NIWRC) is leading a social media campaign to promote support for the reauthorization. Below is a sampling of the information from NIWRC.


NIWRC has developed a social media campaign. All of the insta/twitter/posters you need are attached to this email!!! Please post and tag @NIWRC 

Additionally, there are some social media hashtags for today and going forward that you can use from the National movement: #VAWA4ALL and #VAWA2018. If you tag NIWRC, we will retweet/reinstagram/repost! Because this bill includes needed protections for Native women, NIWRC will also be using #TribalVAWA and #VAWA4Natives. 


Sample TWEETS for Introduction of Bill: 

A Braid of Safety for All! Protect Native Survivors…Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act @NIWRC @jacksonleeTX18 #VAWA4ALL #VAWA4Natives #TRIBALVAWA #VAWA18

Native Survivor’s Can’t Wait…Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act @RepHandle  @NIWRC #VAWA4Natives #TRIBALVAWA #VAWA4ALL   

We’re with @JacksonLeeTX18 to pass #VAWA4ALL because native survivors deserve justice! Please co-sponsor @RepHandle 

Violence doesn’t discriminate and neither should our laws! Support #VAWA18 and ensure Native survivors of gender-based violence have access to justice on tribal lands! #VAWA4ALL 

@RepHandle, violence against women happens in our community, too. Reauthorize #VAWA and support prevention and education programs that keep our jurisdiction safe!

The Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act of 2018, introduced by @JacksonLeeTX18 today, includes key enhancements for all survivors of domestic and sexual violence. @HouseDemocrats and @HouseGOP, let’s get this bill across the finish line! #VAWA18 #VAWA4ALL

The Violence Against Women Act has always been bipartisan. @Rephandle can we count on you to co-sponsor @JacksonLeeTX18 ‘Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act of 2018’ for a #VAWA4All survivors? #VAWA18

We’re with @JacksonLeeTX18 to pass #VAWA4ALL because communities need access to sexual assault prevention! @RepHandle, please co-sponsor #VAWA18

We’re with @JacksonLeeTX18 to pass #VAWA4ALL because survivors need housing protections! @RepHandle, please co-sponsor the “Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act of 2018’

Violence doesn’t discriminate and neither should our laws! Support #VAWA18 and ensure incarcerated survivors of gender-based violence have access to trauma-informed care! #VAWA4ALL

Support #VAWA18 and ensure survivors of domestic abuse access to safe housing! #VAWA4ALL

Reducing access to firearms saves women’s lives! Support #VAWA18 and help prevent firearm-involved intimate partner homicides #VAWA4ALL

NIWRC instagram 1 copy.png

End Trafficking of Native Americans Act

Press release here

Full text of the bill End Trafficking of Native Americans Act of 2018

U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), members of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, today introduced the End Trafficking of Native Americans Act of 2018. This bill addresses some of the gaps between tribal communities and the federal government in combatting human trafficking of Native Americans and Alaska Natives. It would establish an advisory committee on human trafficking comprised of law enforcement, tribal leaders, and service providers to make recommendations to the DOI and DOJ on combatting human trafficking of Native Americans and Alaska Natives. The bill also establishes a Human Trafficking Prevention Coordinator within the Bureau of Indian Affairs to coordinate human trafficking prevention efforts across federal agencies.

“As Nevada’s Attorney General, one of my key missions was to stop the trafficking of innocent women and children and hold traffickers accountable, and I am proud to continue that work in the U.S. Senate” said Cortez Masto. “I have seen firsthand how factors including violence and historical trauma put Native Americans and Alaska Natives at an increased risk of trafficking. This bill will help coordinate investigation and prosecution efforts between federal agencies and will strengthen partnerships between the federal government, tribal leaders, law enforcement and victim advocates. I will continue to use all resources available to bring traffickers to justice and support Native American and Alaska Native survivors.”

“Human trafficking is as evil and vile an issue as any other that’s out there. It is a shocking reality that is felt deeply across the state of Alaska, impacting the Alaska Native population in devastating proportion. This legislation will allow for improved national collaboration between various agencies, tribal communities, and local law enforcement to help address human trafficking – with the assurance that an Alaskan will always have a voice at the table,” said Murkowski. “From strengthening our ability to prevent human trafficking to increasing culturally appropriate training and research programs, I am proud to help drive legislation that will help bring an end to trafficking against American Indians and Alaska Natives.”

“The federal government is aware that Native Americans are a population vulnerable to human trafficking, yet there is no comprehensive plan to address it,” said Chairman Chris Spotted Eagle of the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe. “This legislation to bring law enforcement, tribal leaders and service providers together to make recommendations to the Justice Department and the Department of Interior and to establish coordination between those agencies and the Bureau of Indian Affairs is a bridge to that plan.”

“Though we know that anecdotally human trafficking has had a devastating effect on our tribal communities, there seems to be a lack of understanding around how to best address it. This legislation will help to establish a better understanding of this issue as it relates to American Indian and Alaska Native populations in both Indian country and urban settings. We are thrilled that Senator Cortez Masto is placing a high significance on our communities and on our safety. Human trafficking of native men, women and children has for too long gone unaddressed,” said Lucy Simpson, Executive Director, National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center.

The End Trafficking of Native Americans Act is also supported by the Minnesota Indigenous Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition (MIWSAC).

Article: White Earth Combating the Opioid Epidemic

Great article highlighting the work that the White Earth Nation is doing to combat the opioid epidemic and its impact on the community.

From the article:

“From rescue to long-term sobriety support, White Earth offers some of the best, most evidence-based, most effective, cutting-edge, and compassionate care in the multi-state region,” said Carson Gardner, a doctor with the White Earth Tribal Health Department. “Many of our programs are considered model pilot programs by state agency leaders. White Earth was recently invited to the National Senate Indian Affairs Committee to talk about what we’ve done around opioid treatment. One of the most important things that can happen is to stop being paternalistic and thinking tribes don’t have the capacity or ability to do it best.” . . .

So how are the needs of tribal communities in Minnesota different from non-native communities? “Native Americans in Minnesota have overdose rates five times that of whites,” Dr. Gardner said. “Our people have been in and out of external (non-native) treatment programs unsuccessfully. By operating our own treatment programs we can base curriculum, activities, and way of life on our culture.”

Culture is everything, he added. When treatment programs for Native American people are based on their culture, “you are then getting to the heart of healing. Substance abuse and mental health counseling is treating symptoms, but providing culturally-based ceremonies and activities is healing — and that is where we see the old ‘using’ spirit leaving people, and the good healthy spirit returning in people…”

Tribes face unique challenges, he added: They are dealing with multi-generational historical trauma, including loss of land and independence. They are struggling to preserve historical language, culture, and spirituality. They have to cope with too many untimely deaths, health disparities, and child welfare system disparities, as well as court system sentencing and incarceration disparities, Dr. Gardner said.

The treatment success rate for natives goes up when non-native staff become culturally competent, he added.

That means recognizing that the Anishinaabe way of life is a good way of life and learning about what that means, he said.

“Learn the stories, learn about ceremonies. Recognize that the addiction spirit in people is not the Anishinaabe way,” he said. “Respecting that, honoring it, promoting it.

One of the programs not specifically highlighted in the article, but getting a lot of attention for the success it is having is Maternal Outreach and Mitigation Services (MOMS Program), which is focused on providing holistic services for pregnant women in a supportive environment to deal with the medical and emotional problems caused by addictions to drugs such as prescription opiates and heroin. More information on the MOMS Program can be found here

The full article is available here.

Register Now, American Indian Justice Conference


Register Now for the American Indian Justice Conference and Present Your Work at the All Nations Cafe

December 7-8, 2017
Renaissance Palm Springs
Agua Caliente Reservation, CA

All Nations Cafe Session at the AIJC: 

Join us for the All-Nations Cafe. This session is designed for you to share your innovations and learn from your fellow participants! This activity is similar to a poster session and we encourage you to create something and become exhibitors. What you can do: develop a poster board or visual display describing the process (including the change-process); draft talking points and select a team member to present; bring brochures, fact sheets, sample forms or policies that you would like to share; bring business cards or provide contact information so participants will be able to reach you if they have additional questions or seek advice. If you are interested in participating please contact Cheri Ely to sign-up or ask questions. Raffle prizes will be drawn for both exhibitors and participants.

Registration for the Training: Register HERE. No cost for registration, but participants must cover the costs of travel, lodging, and per diem/food.

About: The goal of the Bureau of Justice Assistance sponsored AIJC is to provide training to enhance your tribal community’s response to combat alcohol and drug abuse, recognize how trauma impacts drug and alcohol abuse in tribal communities, and identify current trends and best practices for tribal justice systems to strengthen multi-disciplinary approaches to healing and justice. The five multi-disciplinary tracks include alcohol and substance abuse, tribal justice strategic planning, tribal courts, tribal security and probation, and tribal youth.  

CTAS Purpose Area 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, and 9 grantees may use grant funds to attend the AIJC. Please confirm with your Program Manager that you have adequate travel and training funds remaining in your award. 


Additional information available here: FREE TRAINING OPPORTUNITY

Judge Tim Connors Honored as NCJFCJ Innovator of the Year

Full press release impact_innovation-pr edit

From the press release:

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) announced two honorees of the 3rd annual Justice Innovation Awards recognizing the national Innovator of the Year and the Impact of the Year recipients: the Honorable Timothy Connors of the 22nd Circuit Court in Washtenaw County, Mich. and the Latin American Youth Center in Washington, D.C. The honorees were recognized at the NCJFCJ’s 80th Annual Conference highlighting informative presentations on current and cutting edge topics that inspired, provoked and precipitated discussions about issues facing the juvenile and family court system.

The Innovator of the Year Award honors an active, in-good-standing NCJFCJ member who has inspired, sponsored, promoted or led an innovation or accomplishment of national significance in juvenile justice, child abuse and neglect, family law and/or domestic violence. The Impact of the Year Award recognizes, from the Annual Conference-host state (Washington, D.C.), an individual, state/local court, law firm, advocacy group or service provider who has been instrumental in leading or implementing significant improvements or innovations which advance the mission of the NCJFCJ.

“It is our privilege to recognize the outstanding work of both Judge Connors and the team at the Latin American Youth Center,” said Judge Anthony (Tony) Capizzi, NCJFCJ president. “We honor their tireless commitment to improving the lives of children and families, especially those in our justice system. We hope that we can continue to raise awareness of the core issues that affect our nation’s families.”

Judge Connors serves as co-chair of the Michigan Tribal-State-Federal Forum, instrumental in drafting the Michigan Indian Family Preservation Act. In 2013, he was awarded a grant by the Michigan Supreme Court to determine whether tribal peacemaking values and practices could be implemented in a state court system. As presiding judge of the Washtenaw County Peacemaking Court, he has fostered the healing of important relationships among litigants in child welfare, family and probate cases by incorporating Native American peacemaking principles and philosophies in conflict resolution.

“I am forever grateful to the Michigan Supreme Court, the University of Michigan Law School, and now the NCJFCJ for opening this path of Peacemaking and restorative justice in state court systems,” said Judge Connors. “This path is the creation of the collaborative effort of the National American Indian Court Judges Association, the Native American Rights Fund Indigenous Peacemaking Initiative and the Michigan Tribal State Federal Forum to find common ground. This common ground greatly benefits our youth, our families and our communities. I hope all of our states will choose to walk this path together.”

“This is a great national honor that Judge Connors has received, and it is well deserved,” said Bridget M. McCormack, Michigan Supreme Court. “For many years, Judge Connors has shown a remarkable dedication to implementing tribal and community court peacemaking principles to resolve cases. In fact, his court was the first in Michigan to adopt the use of these principles, and his success in this area has prompted other states to take notice. His passion for applying justice in collaborative and innovative ways is nothing short of inspiring.”

“Judge Connors honors and respects the traditions of the tribes and tribal justice systems that provided the foundational knowledge and peacemaking principles for his court,” said Nikki Borchardt Campbell, Executive Director, National American Indian Court Judges Association. “We believe these restorative principles can be beneficial to participants when applied correctly and in the exact manner that Judge Connors has applied them in his court. His court and his approach are shining examples. We are proud of his work and his contribution to both state and tribal courts.”

Congratulations Judge Connors

Judge Timothy Connors

Statement on the First National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls

Statement from the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center,  Link Here

The current reports of abduction and murder of American Indian women and girls are alarming and represent one of the most severe aspects of the spectrum of violence committed against Native women. The murder rate of Native women is more than ten times the national average. Often, these disappearances or murders are connected to crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault, and sex trafficking.

The NIWRC recognizes that before this crisis will be sufficiently addressed it must first be acknowledged. This past year, over 200 tribal, state and national organizations joined with NIWRC and signed on in support of a resolution to create a National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls.  The Montana delegation Senator Steve Daines, Senator Jon Tester, and then Congressman Ryan Zinke introduced the resolution in memory of Hanna Harris, a Northern Cheyenne tribal member, who was murdered in July 2013. The resolution was introduced in April 2016 on the same day that RoyLynn Rides Horse, a Crow tribal member, passed away after having been beaten, burned, and left in a field to die. This past Wednesday, May 3, 2017, the United States took a historic step forward and passed the Senate resolution #60 by unanimous consent.

The NIWRC was honored to have worked with so many sister organizations at the tribal, state and federal levels to see the passage of this historic resolution. Today, May 5th 2017, organized community actions are taking place across tribal nations in honor of missing and murdered Native women and girls. The national office of NIWRC is honored to walk with Melinda Harris, mother of Hanna Harris, Senator Steve Daines, staff of Senator Jon Tester and so many others at a walk organized at Lame Deer, Montana. Tribal actions are being held at the Muscogee Creek Nation, the Mohawk Nation, the Oglala Sioux Indian Nation, the Northern Cheyenne Indian Nation, and many other locations.

We ask all of those concerned about safety and justice for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian women to join together today to honor Native American women and girls who have disappeared and those who have been murdered. Together we can work to bring an end to this crisis endangering not only Indigenous women and girls but Indian nations.

The NIWRC is committed to organizing to increase safety and access to justice for American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls, to bringing awareness to this critical issue, and to preventing future acts of violence in our Nations.


Lucy Simpson
Executive Director, NIWRC

Cherrah Giles
Board Chair, NIWRC